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WarCouncil’s “Zero to Clausewitz”

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

The fine gents at WarCouncil.org have released the Cliff Notes of Strategy in their “WarCouncil.org 300 Word Strategic Education” . It is excellent:

Can we educate a strategist in an hour?  Some would argue this task is impossible, that it takes a lifetime, or at least 10,000 hours

But what if we had to?  Imagine it were possible – how would you do it?  How would you accelerate learning to strategic competency?  Note: I define competency as someone that would know, understand, and be able to apply a core set of strategic concepts to analyze and appraise modern war (see also “strategic understanding”).

One scientifically validated path would be the Pareto Principle, which holds, across many systems, that 80% of output comes from 20% of input.  How does this help us rapidly educate strategic practitioners?  We would first identify the critical 20% knowledge base that produces these outsize gains.  We would then leverage this 20% (or “minimum effective dose”) by proving a simple framework for use in any war.

Which is where the “WarCouncil.org 300 Word Strategic Education” comes in.

Following the logic above, I’ve created a document that identifies what I consider the 50 most essential strategic concepts and whittled each to six words apiece (hence, 300 words, not including the actual term itself).  I’ve also presented Clausewitzian Critical Analysis as simply as possible in the header to present this all-weather framework. Lastly, I included an abbreviated footnotes section for those with further interest (and here’s the draft and outtakes).

My claim is that using the “WarCouncil.org 300 Word Strategic Education,” you could educate a competent strategic practitioner in 60 minutes.  

This is simply a neat idea. I don’t think you will get a competent strategist in sixty minutes but you will give a student or new practitioner a fast distillation of strategy’s greatest hits – a fast shared understanding of what they need to know and comprehend.

Can someone send this to the NSC staff? They badly need it.

5 Responses to “WarCouncil’s “Zero to Clausewitz””

  1. T. Greer Says:

    Definitions. No more and no less.


    But seeing how long Strat studies folks argue about definitions, six word distillations are actually pretty useful.

  2. Grurray Says:

    Not a bad starting point.
    One thought-
    I haven’t actually read Mahan, but have read about him. Wouldn’t a better grabline be ‘Don’t Split the Fleet’. The one they picked seems a bit mushy.

  3. zen Says:

    It needs refinement, agreed, but as an idea – highly useful intro to strategy tool. it is shocking how many ppl work in natsec/IC/defense without even this much of a grasp of strategy – to say nothing of the Hill, POTUS campaigns or the media

  4. J.ScottShipman Says:

    The level of ignorance among the political class is shocking, so a crib sheet can only help—I hope.

  5. Terry Barnhart Says:

    Went in skeptical. Now a total nut for this. A terrific crib sheet. I will end up tacking this to my cube wall.


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